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Section of Daniel K. Inouye Highway to Remain Closed as Firefighters Continue Battle Against Brush Fire

By Tiffany DeMasters
August 13, 2021, 9:02 PM HST
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A section of Daniel K. Inouye Highway will remain closed as firefighters continue to battle a brush fire that has scorched approximately 210 acres near mile marker 48.

The fire, which was ignited Friday, Aug. 13, is currently 50% contained, according to Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency. The road will remain closed until Saturday morning from the Old Saddle Road junction near mile marker 42 to the Highway 190 junction.

Motorists are advised to use Old Saddle Road as a detour.

Courtesy of Pōhakuloa Training Area

Fridayʻs fire is the eighth brush fire ignited on the Big Island this year. The US Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Fire Department responded to the blaze at approximately 2 p.m. where it was burning along the south side of Highway 200 (Daniel K. Inouye Highway) near mile marker 48.

Hawaiʻi Fire Department with other county assistance responded as well, according to PTA officials. Crews are working to stamp out the fire amid 25-30 mph winds.

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According to Pōhakuloa Training Area spokesman Mike Donnelly, it is unclear how it started as it is in a remote area where no military training had occurred.

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HFD Chief Kazuo Todd suspects Fridayʻs fire is a rekindling of a small brush fire that lit up Wednesday, Aug. 11. The cause is still under investigation. Wednesdayʻs fire, the chief added, started in three locations simultaneously. It was caught within 30 minutes.

More military resources are coming to aid in putting out the blaze. According to PTA, the US Army has dispatched one UH-60 Blackhawk MEDEVAC aircraft from Bradshaw Army Airfield for aerial reconnaissance to compliment the two HFD helicopters already conducting water-bucket dropping efforts on the fire.

The PTA Commander has also requested three additional aircraft from Oʻahu to assist in containing the fire, and they are expected to be on the island early Saturday morning. Additionally, the county and US Army are moving dozers into place to create fire breaks to disrupt and ultimately stop the fire’s progress.

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The report of Fridayʻs fire comes two weeks after a blaze erupted in Waimea along Mana Road on July 30. Over the course of three days, the fire consumed more than 40,000 acres and destroyed at least two homes in the Puʻukapu Hawaiian Homestead.

While he hasnʻt seen the final report, Todd said, heʻs received confirmation that the fire was accidental and human-caused.

The Mana Road fire is the largest blaze the Big Island has potentially ever seen.

“We have to consider that this will become the new normal,” Todd said of the large wildfire. “itʻs not something I really look forward to ever doing again.”

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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